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Key Facts about Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) and Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus
A very good article was posted in the Daily Toreador where Dr. Ron Warner, epidemiologist at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center, was quoted as saying that the likelihood of avian flu becoming a legitimate concern in Lubbock is more media hype than imminent threat. He went on to say that people should be more cautious with food preparation. Chicken, turkey and duck should be cooked properly and thoroughly to avoid contracting any food-borne illness.

To help you sort out the media hype, EH&S has compiled a list of the most common questions that have been presented to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Should you have any additional questions or concerns the links to these organizations are posted for your convenience.

Also for your assistance, a pandemic flu planning checklist for individuals and families is posted to help you gather the information and resources you may need in case of a flu pandemic.

    What is Bird Flu and It's symptoms
    How Bird Flu is Treated
    Additional information and links
What is Avian Influenza (bird flu)?
Bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.

Do bird flu viruses infect humans?
Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but several cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997.

What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?
Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches (to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of bird flu may depend on which virus caused the infection.

How does bird flu spread?
Infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated excretions or surfaces that are contaminated with excretions. It is believed that most cases of bird flu infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces.

How is bird flu in humans treated?
Studies suggest that the prescription medicines approved for human flu viruses would work in preventing bird flu infection in humans. However, flu viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work.

What is the risk to humans from bird flu?
The risk from bird flu is generally low to most people because the viruses occur mainly among birds and do not usually infect humans. However, during an outbreak of bird flu among poultry (domesticated chicken, duck, turkeys), there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with excretions from infected birds. The current outbreak of avian influenza A (H5N1) among poultry in Asia is an example of a bird flu outbreak that has caused human infections and deaths. In such situations, people should avoid contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces, and should be careful when handling and cooking poultry. For more information about avian influenza and food safety issues, visit the World Health Organization website.

What is the risk to people in the United States from the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Asia?
The current risk to Americans from the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Asia is low. The strain of H5N1 virus found in Asia has not been found in the United States. There have been no human cases of H5N1 flu in the United States. It is possible that travelers returning from affected countries in Asia could be infected. Since February 2004, medical and public health personnel have been watching closely to find any such cases.

What does CDC recommend regarding the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Asia?
In February 2004, CDC provided the U.S. health department with recommendations for enhanced surveillance (“detection”) in the U.S. of avian influenza A (H5N1). Follow-up messages (Health Alert Network) were sent to the health departments on August 12, 2004 and February 4, 2005, both reminding health departments about how to detect (domestic surveillance), diagnose, and prevent the spread of avian influenza A (H5N1). It also recommended measures for laboratory testing for H5N1 virus. CDC currently advises that travelers to countries in Asia with known outbreaks of influenza A (H5N1) avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals.

Currently the CDC is taking part in a number of pandemic prevention and preparedness activities, including:
 Working with the Association of Public Health Laboratories on training workshops for state laboratories on the use of special laboratory (molecular) techniques     to identify H5 viruses.
 Working with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and others to help states with their pandemic planning efforts.
 Working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vietnamese Ministry of Health to investigate influenza H5N1 in Vietnam and to provide help in laboratory     diagnostics and training to local authorities.
 Perform laboratory testing of H5N1 viruses.
 Starting a $5.5 million initiative to improve influenza surveillance in Asia.
 Holding or taking part in training sessions to improve local capacities to conduct surveillance for possible human cases of H5N1 and to detect influenza A H5     viruses by using laboratory techniques.
 Working together with WHO and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on safety testing of vaccine seed candidates and to develop additional vaccine virus seed     candidates for influenza A (H5N1) and other subtypes of influenza A virus.

 Center For Disease Control
 World Health Organization
 Planning and Response for Pandemic Flu
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